By Zak Romanoff
zak@omnifs.com

Any food company selling Wakefern should know these three names:
Saker
Village
Inserra

These are the top 3 groups by store count in Wakefern (excluding corporately owned stores).

 

In early November the Saker family opened up their 30th location in South Plainfield, NJ.


The former A & P store was 54,000 square feet. The Saker family purchased the store, demolished it, invested $12 million into it, and built a new 76,000 square foot unit in the same place! Upon first sight the store is impressive. It looks massive from the outside. This is the new “prototype” model of World Class Shop Rites and is the anchor of the Golden Acres shopping center in the busy downtown area. South Plainfield has many familiar supermarket players; literally across the street from the new ShopRite is an ACME (also formerly an A & P), there is a Stop n Shop about 3 miles away, and there are multiple independents on the drive in as well- Fine Fare, C Town, and other ‘mom and pop’ supermarkets- no doubt all will feel the effects of this store’s presence. This area has a highly diverse clientele. Saker ShopRite, also known as “World Class”, are known for having very strong store discipline- store flow patterns and the Plan O Grams from store to store match for the most part.  A walk through this location shows very strong attention to detail, the cases are impeccable, the variety is immense, and every shelf is perfectly lined and filled. It is clear that a great deal of thought and planning went into this supermarket.


Some of the features the store offers:

  • A food station outside of the store serving hot dogs, mini “New Jersey” style hot dogs, twisted/braided/stuffed pretzels, hot chocolate, and hot apple cider
  • A fully-stocked Bento Sushi bar with prepared rolls and ready to order rolls
  • A massive selection of fresh breads- Portugese Rolls, Ciabatta rolls, and others from around the globe
  • A fresh Oyster bar featuring Blue Point oysters (Long Island), Duxbury oysters (Cape Cod), and other varieties…
  • A massive prepared foods area with multiple self-service bars to choose from
  • “Cheeses from Around the World” with multi-national cheese offerings… A “Speciality Cheese Cut to Order” service station
  • Multiple pallet drops throughout the store with “big brand” savings
  • “Club Size” sections throughout different departments

“With the dissolution of A&P as a corporation, a vast number of their 1980s, 1990s concepts with 54,000 to 56,000 square foot boxes will be hanging out there (empty),” Michael Polimeni, CEO of Polimeni International, told NJBIZ.com.- who undertook the renovation project.

“Quite frankly, it’s a blight on the neighborhood. As a landlord, you’re going to have to figure out how to reposition these assets, so you can make room for a new grocery store that is … 80,000 square feet,” Polimeni said.

Takeaways:

Kudos to the Saker family for making a sound acquisition. Investing in the store should be a wise one. It could’ve been easy to simply re-open the location with the same features that were already there and re-opened the store quickly. But by investing those millions in renovations, this store will become a trend-setter not only for supermarkets in this area but for all Shop Rite stores. I expect it to make an immediate impact in this very densely populated area.

100 former A & P locations still remain unsold after its bankruptcy. One of the reasons why is that landlords have been holding out for higher leases from potential new store owners. As more time goes by and landlords fail to collect rent on dormant properties, expect landlords to lower their lease demands. As the true market value of such locations begins to reach the surface, expect to see store operators flush with cash step in and purchase super-sized stores and put their mark on them.